Following GOP Attacks, Democrats Move on Gas Prices

Posted April 24, 2008 at 2:29pm

Responding to GOP criticism that Democrats have not followed through on their pledge to reduce gas prices, Senate Democrats intend to next week unveil a proposal aimed at slashing pump prices.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) took to the floor Thursday morning and berated Democrats for failing to tackle the high gas prices hitting American drivers.

“Since taking control of Congress last year, Democrats not only failed to deliver on their promise to lower gas prices, they have repeatedly pushed for policies that would not lower but raise prices at the pump,” McConnell contended.

A senior Senate Democratic aide said that final details of a Democratic proposal have yet to be settled, but Senators are considering legislation that would require the administration to stop stockpiling gasoline in underground storage at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) has sponsored legislation that would suspend the storing of oil in the reserve, which has garnered the backing of all three presidential candidates: Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) made a similar call in the House on Thursday, demanding that President Bush stop filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Furthermore, a leading Democratic Senator involved in negotiations said that he may attempt to amend the Iraq supplemental spending package with his Strategic Petroleum Reserve bill during the Senate Appropriations Committee markup.

The Senator said there was some expectation that his proposal would be part of any Iraq package.

Senate Democrats also plan to send a letter to President Bush that would require him to put pressure on OPEC and Saudi Arabia to increase oil production back to 2005 levels.

Democrats complain that the president has not been pressuring Saudi Arabia to own up to its end of the relationship by producing more oil in exchange for an arms deal.

In part, if the president is not receptive to the letter, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that he would seek Congressional blockage of that arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

“Congress has the authority to act. This would put the administration on notice that we are seriously considering blocking [the arms deal] and other things,” Schumer said.